Stocks were down across most of Asia, with the exception of Shanghai which managed a gain of 1.3%. But the Hang Seng lost three quarters of a percent and both the Nikkei and Australia were down about 1.5%. Europe is mixed with the Dax currently trading unchanged and the Footsie a fraction higher. US stock futures are essentially unchanged as I write.
The January report on Japan's Merchandise Trade Balance showed that exports increased at the fastest pace in almost thirty years, up 40.9% from a year ago. Sales abroad gave Japan a trade surplus of 85.2 billion yen in January, beating the estimate for a 136 billion yen trade deficit. The final Q4 reading of German GDP was unrevised at 0.0% on a quarter on quarter basis.
US mortgage applications were down 8.5% in the week ended February 19, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association; that's the third decline in a row and the fourth drop in five weeks. The January reading of New Home Sales is due out at 9:00am CST, it is expected to show a monthly increase of 3.5% to an annualized rate of 354k units.
Fed Chairman Bernanke is scheduled to deliver the semi-annual testimony on the economy and monetary policy before the House Committee on Financial Services at 9:00am CST. Treasury Secretary Geithner is scheduled to testify on the 2011 budget proposal before the House Budget Committee at 9:00am CST.
The weekly report on energy inventories is due out at 9:30am CST. Stocks of Crude Oil are forecast to increase 1.9 million barrels, inventories of Gasoline are expected to gain 600k and the estimate for Distillates is -1.5 million. The Treasury plans to sell $42 billion 5 Year Notes today, the results will be announced just after noon CST.